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Old 07-23-2017, 06:39 AM   #745
BleedOrange11 BleedOrange11 is offline
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Sep 2011
Galveston, TX

I was researching vintage stereo cinema, and I found that Japan made three 3D short films in 1953. Japan had been researching 3D camera rigs during the 1940s for military aviation purposes, but that footage is thought to be lost, most likely destroyed after the WWII peace treaty was signed. When Japan heard the commotion caused by Bwana Devil in the U.S. in November 1952, they rushed to create their own 3D films ahead of Bwana's Japanese release date. It is thought that they used Japanese camera designs from their previous military research to build their rigs, especially Toho's.

Runway Sunday.jpg
Fig. 1: Runaway Sunday

Toho Company was first, releasing Runaway Sunday (10min) [Fig. 1] and Someone's After Me (with intent to kill) (18min) [Fig. 2] on April 22, 1953, having shot both on a dual-strip 35mm "Tovision" rig. The first is about a young couple in love who goes to an amusement park and rides a bunch of rides. The second is about a male dancer from the Japan Theater Hall who is chosen for a solo dance number. One of his coworkers gets jealous and sends him an anonymous death threat letter among his celebratory flower bouquets. The dancer is then haunted by a mysterious man in black glasses.

Someone's After Me.jpg
Fig. 2: Toho 3D Flyer

Shochiku Company was second, releasing Duel (33min) on May 12, 1953, just ahead of Bwana Devil's May 27 JP release. This was shot on a "Shochiku Natural Vision" rig, which I believe was constructed for single-strip SBS, possibly making it more Russian-inspired despite the obvious name reference. It is a crime drama about a cop (Fig. 3) who has been investigating an armed robbery. He goes to a cabaret to relax after leaving the crime scene, and meets a dancer (Fig. 4) who is very interested in a medal that he won in a shooting competition. Upon leaving the club, he is hit by a car, and his medal is stolen. This same type of medal is found at the scene of the crime. One of his old shooting companions turns out to be the criminal (Fig. 5) who had a similar medal and dropped it at the scene. He is the boyfriend of the cabaret dancer, so they robbed the cop to create an alibi, and the cop has to bring them to justice by the end.

Now, Duel actually aired in SBS 3D on Japanese television on November 9, 2015. Any chance we could license Duel or the Toho fims as extras for one of Kino's Blu-ray 3D releases?

Duel 1953 Japanese 3D.jpg
Fig. 3: Duel Cop

Duel 02.jpg
Fig. 4: Duel Cabaret Dancer

Duel 03.jpg
Fig. 5: Duel Criminal

Unfortunately, Japan never made any full-length Golden Age 3D features. From what I've read, I believe their reasoning was that they were afraid a longer film would cause too much eyestrain. Toho producer Iwao Mori claimed that shooting the 3D films was hard work and that he would never do it again. He then sent their special effects team to work on an idea that developed into 1954's Gojira (Godzilla), and Japan quickly abandoned 3D to focus on CinemaScope, or "TohoScope" and Shochiku "Grand Scope", like the rest of the world.

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Last edited by BleedOrange11; 07-23-2017 at 09:31 AM.
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